There are 2 main ways to start your own cafe.
One is to find an empty space and the second is just to buy a ready one.
The 2nd way in my case was more ideal. My German was not very good and setting up a cafe from scratch in such a short time in a new country seemed like a mountain to me.
In addition, there is another problem, and that was the extremely small number of spaces available in general, let alone for cafe.
Somehow I found a small space of about 20 sq.m. which was already a cafe.
The cafe was for sale for 20,000€ and its rent was 1,000€ a month. And the price and rent were quite expensive for such a small space.
I didn’t have many options though and I didn’t want to keep working on others so I decided to buy it.
The process took a long time and I finally bought the store at the end of December 2016
It took us about another month to make the changes we wanted, clean it, decide the menu and to order the necessary stock.
The name of the cafe was MABI Cafe (don’t ask what it means) and it officially opened its doors on February 1, 2017.
The cafe had a Greek element in it and our goal was to reach even the few Greeks in the city as well as Germans who either like Greece and are familiar with Greek flavors or are just curious and want to try something different.
The truth is that we had not found the right identity from the beginning and we continued some logic both in the aesthetics of the space and in the menu from their previous owners.
So in the 2 years we stayed open we made a lot of changes trying to find what works and what doesn’t.
At first it was very difficult but at the same time we had a lot of energy. However, energy was declining more and more as the months went by and it seemed that no matter what we did, it didn’t work.
The space also had many disadvantages, one of which was that it did not have a toilet for guests.
In the first 12 months we made a turnover of just 28,463€, which means just 2,372€ a month. Not profit but turnover.
For the next 11 months we did even worse with 24,129€, or 2,193€ a month.
To understand how ugly this was, just think that about 40% went to cover the rent alone. In comparison nowadays, my wife and I also have a net income of more than 3,000€ a month from our work, as you can see here.
As always, I didn’t give up so easily, and I tried to do it with the support of my wife and family as much as I could.
I was falling behind with my rent and, under pressure from the owner of the property, who had long wanted to give the store to a nearby businessman for expansion, I was forced to give up.
I gained just 7,000€ in order to leave the store. And so on January 31, 2019 we closed it.
This activity brought me to my limits. And with me I brought my parents to their limits too.
They believed in me and that’s why they supported my personal needs with a lot of money all this time.
One thing I regret from all this experience is this. How bad this was at my parents psychology and pocket.
What they are saying is that if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. This Cafe didn’t kill us and it really made us stronger.
And that’s kind of how we’re getting to today.
But before we get into what I’m doing now and what I’m going to do, there’s another experience I’ve had over the years. It is the most unfortunate moment of my business / investment “career” so far.